Although it is quite easy to use it in an ‘extreme’ way, DOF could be very useful sometimes for isolating the subject.
Rendering DOF in a scene during the ‘native’ process – although this could result the best quality – is very time-consuming.
That is the reason why in CGI it used to be replaced with rendering a Z-depth pass and then using the depth information to achieve the effect.
In case of rendering stills, we have several options to make this composited result.
1. Photoshop has a built-in Lens Blur filter with a decent result as output (not ‘outstanding’, but fair enough).
– Photoshop is pricey
– It comes for free with PS
2. Blender Compositor gives us this post-processing effect with nodes
– It is slow
– It is an additional ‘element’ in the pipeline so it is not so comfortable to use
– It is free
– It results affordable quality
3. DOF PRO for Photoshop
– It is slow like hell (previewing is extremely slow, too)
– It doesn’t support 64 bit versions of PS
– I was not able to run it under other hosts (I tried some like PhotoPlus, no luck)
– It is pricey (USD 100) for a single filter
– GUI is outdated
– Image quality
– Supports image sequences without additional costs
4. LensCare gives great speed and awesome quality with some compromises:
– The workflow is extremely stupid (I’m not kidding, I was shocked, how idiotic it is).
– The built-in ‘reversing’ function of the Z-depth image resulted image errors on my sample render
– it is pricey, too (USD 89) for a single plugin (After Effects version comes separately and for additional fee, what sucks)
– Image quality is great
– It is fast (beats everything in speed)
– Has a version for After Effects (although that is a different product)
5. Serif PhotoPlus offers a built-in Depth of Field filter
-It doesn’t worth a penny. Crap. Piece of shit. (I’m talking about the built-in plugin, not the app itself!)
– PhotoPlus could handle some of the PS plugins and LenscCare works on PhotoPlus
– PhotoPlus is the only affordable PS alternative for indies I saw until this time; even with buying LensCare it is far-far cheaper than PS itself and results better quality output
– It is a GIMP filter and GIMP is something what I hate by heart for its GUI
– No previewing for the settings (one of the reasons why I hate GIMP)
– affordable quality
– it is free